Category Archives: Events

SoBRA conference will discuss “Current Issues in Contaminated Land Risk Assessment”

SoBRA AGM and Conference will be held in London next month

Nov 21st 2015

SoBRA (the Society of Brownfield Risk Assessment) is holding its AGM next month. The event will take place on Wednesday, December 16th 2015, at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) premises in London.

In collaboration with the RSC Toxicology Group, SoBRA will also be holding a conference on the same day, titled “Current Issues in Contaminated Land Risk Assessment.” The conference will include a poster display covering a range of key research topics and case studies. The topics to be discussed include:

  • An update on Defra and the Environment Agency’s activities in contaminated land risk assessment
  • Human health risk assessment regarding contaminated land: the state of the art
  • The potential for airborne asbestos from soil contamination
  • Landfill risk assessment

SoBRA’s Vice Chair, Lucy Thomas, will also be giving a talk next month on ‘Asbestos: How to investigate a brownfield site safely.’ The event has been organised by the Geological Society and will take place in Warrington on December 3rd 2015.

For further information on these events, see the SoBRA website.


Sustainable drainage systems and green infrastructure – CIRIA webinar

Using nature and green infrastructure to manage flood risk

Nov 7th 2015

CIRIA (the Construction Industry Research and Information Association) held a webinar this week on sustainable drainage systems and the idea of using ‘green infrastructure’ and nature to manage flood risk. The event provided an overview of the current research and applications in this area, highlighted the benefits of green infrastructure and sustainable drainage systems, and included a number of case studies that demonstrated how these ideas have been put into practice.

One such case is a project undertaken by Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru) in Llanelli, South Wales, where sustainable drainage systems have been retrofitted to address both flooding and water quality problems. Welsh Water have also developed a landscaping concept called Rainscape which is designed to manage rainwater in urban environments and is currently being used on urban landscaping projects. Rainscape features a number of ways to catch rainwater and slow down the speed at which it goes into the sewer network, helping to reduce sewer flooding and pollution and the risk of surface water flooding. The methods include grass channels, swales, porous pavements and underground storage boxes. See our news item “Welsh Water develops Rainscape” for further details.

CIRIA has published a briefing paper on green infrastructure which provided background information for the webinar and presents an overview on the use of sustainable drainage systems in both rural and urban areas, including practical examples. CIRIA defines green infrastructure as “a strategically planned and delivered network of natural and man-made green (land) and blue (water) spaces that sustain natural processes.” The application of green infrastructure is recognised in government and EU policy and advocated by bodies such as the Landscape Institute.

Green infrastructure incorporates the idea of natural flood management, which the report’s authors define as: “the alteration, restoration or use of landscape features to reduce flood risk.” Its application in rural areas is illustrated by the example of the village of Belford in Northumberland, which failed to satisfy cost-benefit criteria for structural defences despite a number of floods occurring in recent years. Natural flood management techniques were used as an alternative, including a number of “run-off attenuation features.” Put simply, says CIRIA, “the design philosophy is to create features that slow, store and filter run-off in the rural landscape.” The methods include ‘offline’ diversion ponds, where water is diverted from a stream network into a pond structure for temporary storage, permeable timber barriers, and ‘online’ ditch management.

For more details, see “Using green infrastructure and nature to manage flood risk”.


CIRIA is the Construction Industry Research and Information Association. It is an independent, not-for-profit association whose aim is to link organisations with common interests and to facilitate a range of collaborative activities that help to improve the construction industry. For further information on the webinar, see CIRIA events.

Brownfield Briefing Sheffield Conference – Regeneration and Brownfield Development

How to optimise the use of policy mechanisms and increase the viability of brownfield sites

Oct 22nd 2015

Brownfield Briefing has organised a conference on regeneration and brownfield development which will be held in Sheffield next month. The conference will be held on Thursday, 12th November and will explore a number of issues concerning brownfield development, such as the latest government policy on brownfield land; the practicalities of using Housing Zones and Local Development Orders to optimise brownfield development; how non-viable brownfield sites could be unlocked and accelerated through planning; and how the creation of new City Regions will accelerate regeneration.

The conference organisers explain the background to conference as the growing attention to brownfield sites, which has grown in order to deliver future housing and development needs whilst avoiding development on contentious greenfield land: “Additionally, the development of a Northern Powerhouse and achieving high levels of regeneration, including infrastructure, commercial and housing development outside of London and the South-East of England, will bring renewed focus onto former industrial sites, coalfields and other brownfield sites.”

There are, however, significant barriers to the redevelopment of brownfield sites: “Many formerly-used sites are considered non-viable by developers because of the high risks, costs and complexity associated with them. Complicated or unclear ownership makes land purchase difficult and then coupled with physical obstacles such as contamination and lack of infrastructure, mean that bringing brownfield land back into re-use is costly, complex and fraught with uncertainties.”

The conference will bring together a range of speakers from the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Planning Advisory Service, the Homes and Communities Agency, the Home Builders Federation, local authorities, consultancies and academia. The conference will be focused on how to optimise the use of funding and policy mechanisms to increase the viability of brownfield sites and successfully unlock challenging sites.

The programme for the day features ten sessions that encompass a wide range of issues impacting on brownfield development, including government policy, the role of local planning authorities, viability and risk analysis, funding and costs. The morning’s sessions are focused on policy and planning:

  • The latest government policy on brownfield development and the mechanisms that will be used to support it, including brownfield land registers and the “planning permission in principle” for brownfield sites.
  • How brownfield sites not currently seen as viable could be unlocked and accelerated through the planning process, including how the process from site investigation to remediation to redevelopment could be simplified and accelerated.
  • The practicalities of implementing Local Development Orders to make brownfield land available for housing, including levels of detail and risk assessments.
  • The use of Brownfield Housing Zones to optimise brownfield development and achieve housing targets, including the funding and incentives available to local authorities.

In the afternoon, the focus of the sessions shifts to regeneration and infrastructure, and the practicalities of costs and remediation:

  • How the creation of new City Regions through the proposed Devolution Deals will accelerate regeneration and development.
  • Reducing uncertainty in remediation to increase confidence in brownfield development, including better techniques to estimate the cost of remediation.
  • The role of brownfield in housing and commercial development from a developer’s perspective.
  • How developers, local authorities and other stakeholders can work together to maximise growth and increase delivery: A case study of the Castlefields Regeneration Partnership.
  • Innovative Regeneration Funding: Accessing the mechanisms available to fund remediation and redevelopment and minimise the risks.
  • How development in transport and infrastructure will be progressed and the implications of this for regeneration.
  • Alternative uses for brownfield to unlock sites and maximise their potential, including the role of brownfield sites in developing sustainable cities.

Regeneration, Brownfield Development & City Regions will be held in Sheffield on Thursday, 12th November. For further information on the conference, see Brownfield Briefing.


Photograph: Derelict hardstanding, near Thorney Hill, Hampshire © Copyright Jim Champion and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. The land was part of RAF Holmsley in the New Forest, which was operational during the Second World War.

Property Care Association launches ‘Code of Practice for the Flood Protection of Buildings’

New guidelines set to be unveiled at Flood Expo 2015 in London

Oct 14th 2015

New guidelines on flood protection are set to be unveiled today at Flood Expo 2015. Billed as “the world’s largest flood exhibition and conference,” the two-day event is being held at the Excel Exhibition Centre in London’s Docklands. The event showcases 150 suppliers displaying their latest products with live demonstrations in the areas of flood prediction, flood prevention, flood defence, flood response and clean-up, and also includes 80 seminars, workshops and panel debates.

The new guidelines on flood protection have been developed by the Property Care Association Flood Protection Group and aim to provide a concise and thorough guide to the subject based on current best practice. Steve Hodgson, CEO of the Property Care Association (PCA), said the ‘Code of Practice for the Flood Protection of Buildings’ will provide guidelines that set the principles and standards to which the organisation’s members work.

Contractors and manufacturers affiliated to the PCA already have to meet strict criteria and standards in areas such as technical competence, financial probity, training and customer service, but Steve Hodgson believes the Code of Practice will further underline the professional credentials of the organisation’s members: “It recognises the need for any professional involved in the protection of buildings at risk of flood to understand the physical, financial and, very importantly, the emotional impact on property owners,” he said. “One of our key aims is to drive up standards within the industry and we believe the new Code of Practice will be an essential part of that. We’re keen to increase consumer confidence and become a reference point for legislators, community groups, insurers and home owners. By establishing the Flood Protection Group last year and now launching a new Code of Practice, we believe we’re making great strides towards those goals.”

Mary Dhonau, Chair of the PCA Flood Protection Group and CEO of the ‘Know Your Flood Risk’ campaign, believes the new guidelines are essential: “With the increase in the number of devastating floods expected to rise due to climate change and home owners being expected to protect their own homes, it’s vital that the PCA Flood Protection Group raises the bar within the industry and expects a high level of professionalism from its members,” she said. “Consumers will then have assurance that our members will provide an excellent service when it comes to making their homes more resilient to flooding.”

Flood Expo 2015 is free to attend and the opening times are:

  • Wednesday 14th October 10am – 5pm
  • Thursday 15th October 10am – 4pm


1. Flood Expo is organised by the Prysm Group, working in partnership with the Environment Agency. The Prysm Group’s flagship event is ‘The Business Show’ which is held twice a year. For more information, see Flood Expo.

2. A one-day conference to be held in London later this month will discuss issues surrounding flood risk insurance in the run-up to the implementation of the UK Government’s ‘Flood Re’ scheme. See our news item “Flood Risk Insurance 2015 – London Conference” for more information.

Flood Risk Insurance 2015 – London Conference

Conference asks what impact the implementation of Flood Re will have on the modelling and pricing of flood risk insurance

Oct 6th 2015
A one-day conference to be held in London this month will discuss issues surrounding flood risk insurance in the run-up to the implementation of the UK Government’s ‘Flood Re’ scheme.

Representatives from the Environment Agency and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology will be talking about the Government’s flood mitigation strategies and policy initiatives and the lessons that can be learnt from the emerging science on flood risk. Senior representatives from Flood Re will explain how the scheme works, how it will be rolled out, and the practical implications for insurers including claims and settlement processes. There will also be a session on the latest tools for underwriting, pricing and modelling flood risk, including probabilistic models, vendor models, and assessing flood risk from flood maps.

The conference – “Flood Risk & Insurance: Systems and Strategies for Effective Pricing, Modelling and Underwriting of Flood Insurance” – will be held in London on 29th October 2015. For more information on the conference, see Infoline.


1. The Government held a consultation last year on the Flood Re scheme. See our news item “Flood Risk Insurance – UK Government Consults” for more information on Flood Re.

2. See also our news item “Flood Re insurance scheme approved by EU but not by Climate Change Committee” for the latest developments.

3. For an explanation of flood risk categories, see our article “Do I live in a Flood Zone?”.

EA plans to make ‘Flood and Coast 2016’ the authoritative event on flood and coastal risk management

Environment Agency Conference: ‘Risk, Resilience & Response in a Changing Climate’

Sept 18th 2015

The Environment Agency is convening a major conference on flood and coastal risk management, to be held at the Telford International Centre in February 2016. The Environment Agency says that the three-day event, titled Flood & Coast 2016, builds on the legacy of previous flood and coastal risk management (FCRM) events led by Defra and the Environment Agency which took place in Telford until 2010 and were considered to be the authoritative events on FCRM.

Working in partnership with ICE (the Institution of Civil Engineers) and CIWEM (the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management), the Environment Agency is planning a three-day programme of workshops, debates and panel sessions, tailored to topics selected by the Agency and an industry advisory panel, and says it will draw on the best of its partners’ resources to make this the authoritative FCRM event. The event will include an exhibition and the conference chair, Alison Baptiste, Director of Strategy and Investment at the Environment Agency, says she wants exhibitors to be able to share their products and services to support the delivery of flood and coastal risk management.

The main theme of the event is ‘Risk, Resilience & Response in a Changing Climate’ and under this main theme the Agency has selected four key topics for the conference:

  • People and Property
  • Community Resilience
  • Major Infrastructure and Asset Management
  • Global Perspectives

Alison Baptiste says that the following three aspects of the conference will make it even more relevant to its visitors and exhibitors than previous events:

  • The involvement of infrastructure partners, business and community groups who were largely missing from the previous events: “they are key partners when it comes to FCRM delivery.”
  • An innovative conference and exhibition format that will provide more opportunities to discuss and debate the issues facing the FCRM community today and in the future.
  • “Looking beyond our shores to learn from those responding to flood and coastal erosion risk overseas.”

In a message from the chair, Alison Baptiste says: “Everyone who is involved in flood and coastal erosion risk management, or who is affected by flooding or erosion, should be interested in Flood & Coast 2016. The key FCRM delivery partners attending will be local authorities, water companies, internal drainage boards and the Environment Agency. We also want to see the consultants and contractors who deliver a huge amount of the work on our behalf. Many of our framework contractors and consultants work all over the world, so they will be able to share this overseas expertise and fresh thinking.”

She continues: “Contributions from the major infrastructure providers, such as Highways England, Network Rail, as well as the ports and airports, will be an essential success factor for the event. Protection of their critical assets is a national priority. We also hope to hear from community groups – again so they can be part of the discussion to assist those involved in delivering flood and coastal risk management measures to really understand what is needed and therefore how best to provide it.”

The conference will be accompanied by ‘lunch and learns,’ product presentations, and networking opportunities on the exhibition floor. The dates for the conference are February 23-25. For more information, see the conference website: Flood & Coast 2016.

Scottish Contaminated Land Forum Annual Conference 2015

“Advances in Land Contamination Assessment and Remediation”

Sept 11th 2015

The Scottish Contaminated Land Forum will be holding its sixth annual conference next week at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The event is being held on 16th September and is focused on recent advances in land contamination assessment and remediation.

The draft programme for the day includes poster presentations, talks and discussions, including presentations on:

  • the importance of the design, installation and verification of gas protection measures
  • a review of the updated BS8485 and other recent guidance on ground gas
  • methods for reducing dissolved chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations
  • methods of hydrocarbon analysis
  • the environmental forensic analysis of coal tar

The day’s events will also see a presentation on using old insurance to fund remediation, and a session on the SoBRA accreditation scheme. For more information see the Scottish Contaminated Land Forum website.


The Scottish Contaminated Land Forum (SCLF) says: “SCLF encourages and promote the effective and sustainable reuse of contaminated land in Scotland and elsewhere, positively contributing to future economic growth and quality of life for people and communities. Our members are drawn from the public and private sector including regulators, consultants, contractors and service providers and we welcome new members so come and join in. Our quarterly forum meetings and annual conference aid knowledge sharing in the industry and provide an easy atmosphere for networking. We were established with the assistance of Scottish Enterprise with our main objectives to bring together contaminated land professionals of all kinds, to arrange meetings for information exchange and to promote and develop best practice among Scottish contaminated land practitioners.”